The basics

Let’s start with the classic Desert Island Discs. Keeping things down to ten albums [Yes, Mari: I know that you only get eight discs on the original BBC DID, but I’m not asking for a book “other than the Bible or Shakespeare”, so I’ve decided that I get two extra albums. My blog, my rules….] is really tough, and I’ve had to cheat a bit by including a couple of double CDs and restricting myself to just rock and stuff – no jazz, classical, soundtracks, musicals, etc. (I’ve also updated the list a couple of times, to reflect my changing moods.) Anyway, here we are:

Artist Album Why I care
Dire Straits Alchemy (live) Mark Knopfler and the band stretch it out. “Telegraph Road” is one of the best rock stories of all time.
Scritti Politti Cupid&Psyche 85 Europop? Yes. No. Exquisitely constructed jazzy synth-based dance tracks.
Grateful Dead Live Dead The continuous flow of “Dark Star”->”St. Stephen” -> “The Eleven” -> “Lovelight” defines rock’n’roll jamming.
Orb adventures beyond the ultraworld Sound track for my life.
Legendary Pink Dots Crushed Velvet Apocalypse How to pick just one of the huge repertoire of CDs by Edward Ka-Spel and the Dots? This was what started it all for me.
Art of Noise Seduction of Claude Debussy The history of 20th century music, from Debussy to rap.
Al Stewart Past, Present & Future Al has a special place in my heart: another expat Brit, about my age, as British as Gilbert & Sullivan and Bert Jansch.
Pink Floyd Umma Gumma The first disc is a spiritual experience. And I’m an atheist.
The Divine Comedy Regeneration I love all of Neil Hannon’s work, but this is my favourite. Yes, there’s a Radiohead influence – but Thom Yorke could never write something as infectiously happy as “Perfect Lovesong”.
Porcupine Tree Lightbulb Sun [Deluxe] Porcupine Tree has become one of my absolutely favourite groups; I’ve seen them live several times, and I’ve bought everything they’ve recorded. Redefines “progressive” music, without losing touch with what made it special 35+ years ago.


I’ve always thought that the main reason people put music information into their blogs is to try and convince others of the merits of their favourite – and usually rather obscure – artists. Well, guess what: I’m no different from anyone else. So this section will include just that: artists and CDs that I think you really ought to check out.

Artist Album(s) Why should you care?
No-Man Flowermouth, Returning Jesus Lyrically subtle, musically subdued yet complex
According to my Dream A2MD Live at the Press Room Insistent poetry over percussion and bass
October Project October Project, Falling Farther In Exquisite songs, soaring vocals. They will be back… real soon!
Men Without Hats Pop Goes The World, etc. MWH? Aren’t they just a one-hit wonder with that cute “Safety Dance” thing? Well, no. Sure, they started out with mainstream synth-driven Europop, but they were always much more than that. Maybe it was the French Canadian influence…. Go back and listen again.
(more anon)

Special links

Special pics

Two thumbnails from the January 2007 show in Bellevue, showing Al singing without his guitar (accompanied by Dave), and Al at the piano.
al #1 al #2

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.